The first two enumerated rights, life and liberty, are straightforward enough, but this business about the pursuit of Happiness is more complex. Note that it is a right to the pursuit of Happiness, not to Happiness itself, and that despite the messages of our consumer culture, Happiness is not always the same thing as Fun. And nothing makes some people unHappier than the prospect of other people being Happy in a way that does not suit them. Yet this right to a personal definition of Happiness, and the right to pursue it, remains at the core of what Americans want their country to be. It is the Declaration's most profound idea.
On this Independence Day, go on out into the world and pursue your happiness! Follow your bliss (as Joseph Campbell would say) and enjoy your freedom to do so. Remember that no one (especially not the government) owes you happiness--you are responsible for achieving it on your own.
But that's the beauty of it! Every human's happiness is his or her own personal quest, and it is different from every other human being's.
And as each of you pursues your dreams, you can be thankful that you were born or came to live in the best, most moral and most free country in the history of the world.
God, I love this country!
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